Yes, I’ve gone all Swedish. Just back from four fabulous days in Stockholm with the Daughter and the Sister and what a time we had! We all fell in love with the city, its buildings, its culture, its people, its food, its drink – especially the glogg, the mulled Christmas wine, its sights and sounds, well, just about everything about it, really.
And the fact that we didn’t stop laughing from the moment we got to Gatwick
added to our enjoyment.
We stayed at the Mornington Hotel on Nybrogata, http://www.mornington.se/Mornington—Stockholm—EN/Home.aspx which the Daughter just chose at random, but what a fabulous place. It was like staying in a library; the owners are, apparently, great literature lovers and there are shelves of books everywhere, even in the bedrooms. My own library contained a real eclectic mix, including Val McDermid, Alastair Maclean, Lee Childs, Jo Nesbo, Stieg Larsson and Dagmar Lange. Breakfast was a true feast and we were spoilt for choice and as soon as we stepped in the door we were offered a glass of glogg along with some pepperkaken (gingerbread biscuits). It was all downhill from there! But it was the most wonderful, warming stuff, as we discovered in the Old Town on Sunday morning, watching the ice-skaters and listening to Christmas songs and walking round the Christmas Market in the lightly flurrying snow.
Well, it would have been rude not to!!
We loved the Old Town, who wouldn’t? It is absolutely charming and atmospheric and just a short walk from our hotel. We loved wandering through the cobbled streets and we had a fabulous meal in a small, family-run restaurant on Friday night. Swedish meatballs!! Yum yum!! Yet also within walking distance we found elegant shops and stores and malls, all beautifully decorated with thousands of gold lights for Christmas.
Courtesy of the Daughter’s Swedish colleague, Johan, we went up the Globe on Skyview, which afforded us fabulous views of the whole city. From there we could really appreciate the layout and see just how beautiful the Stockholm Archipelago is. We followed that up with a trip to the Abba Museum.
I was in my element. You see, I was always a closet Abba fan; even through the pre-Mamma Mia days when it wasn’t really cool to like them. What a fabulous place. Yes, I know it was the Decade That Taste Forgot, but I just love the 70s fashions. I’m, sorry, but I do! We did karaoke, which is, apparently on the Abba Museum website for the next 30 days!! And went into the Disco for a little bit of a bop. We had a really great time there and we couldn’t have gone to Stockholm and not done it.
One of the highlights, though, was going to St Eleanora’s Church on Sunday afternoon for the LuciaKonsiert. It was the Santa Lucia celebration – the festival of light. The Swedes adopted Lucia, an Italian saint, to bring light to the middle of their winter.
It took place at 3pm, by which time it was dark, of course, given that the sun set at 2.26pm! The church was packed, there must have been a thousand people in the congregation. There was a small orchestra and a largish adult choir and then lights went out and the main doors opened and the children’s choir came in, each holding a candle led by Santa Lucia herself, wearing a crown of seven candles. She stood completely still for more than an hour while we listened to the Christmas hymns and songs and music, while the candles still flamed brightly on her head. It was a really magical experience; a quintessentially Swedish Christmas tradition.
And then, with a Disneyesque touch, we came out of St Eleanora’s to find it was snowing! It gives me a shiver remembering it. A nice shiver.
Stockholm is not only a beautiful city, it is civilised, elegant and classy, where, on the whole, we felt very safe. The only thing spoiling it, the presence of very large groups of Romanians around Central Station who beg quite aggressively. The city is spotlessly clean; the only litter we saw anywhere was that piled up around these people as they squatted on the ground and on the station steps. Swedes are helpful, friendly and kind. If we hesitated for a moment, or looked at our map, someone would immediately come over and offer to help – in perfect English. The only trouble we saw was a spat between two Romanian buskers, who were fighting over the same busking site and spitting and shouting at each other and kicking each other’s instruments. What a shame! They are polar opposites to the modern, well-mannered, polite, classy Swedes.
But, one of the best things about the trip was spending quality time with the Sister and the Daughter – two of the people I love most in all the world. We share the same, wicked sense of humour and once we start laughing there is no stopping us. And, we didn’t stop laughing for four days.